chapter  3.1
12 Pages

Beginning to talk

BySandra Smidt

From the moment of birth the baby pays close attention to the sounds of her mother's or other primary caregiver's voice, facial expressions and hand movements. The newborn not only listens and pays attention to the rhythms and tones of words spoken to her but also responds to these. Trevarthen draws on the work of Bateson, who, one may remember, closely examined the development of communication from early infancy, perceiving these interactions as protoconversational. When looking at early interactions she noticed that when the infant responded or used pre-speech mouth movements accompanied by gesture, vocalising and gesturing at the same time, the response of the mother was not only positive, but almost always verbal. This response with speech being something recognised or accepted as speech, indicated that the infant's response was taken as both verbal and meaningful by the mother.